Turangi Fishing Report 16 December 2022

Upper Blue Pool, Tongariro River.

Brian Willson NZPFGA member, professional guide and I Love Fly Fishing shop partner, brings us his weekly fly fishing report from Turangi for the Central North Island lakes and rivers.  For up to date info, for what flies are working and if you want to call to the shop – 8 Wiremu Street – call Brian on 021667867.  Brian fishes Euro/Czech, Dry Fly, Trout Spey, Nymph and Wet Fly.

Hello fellow fly fishers,

This week has seen a lot more rain and on Sunday night the Tongariro River reached 274 cumecs making fishing impossible on the Monday. I never mind a good fresh however because as soon as the river level starts to recede there will be a number of receptive trout ready to gorge up on all the nymphs and other food life that the swollen river has stirred up. The good thing about The Tongariro is that it falls as quickly as it rises so timing is key. Fishing on a river when the level is falling can be deadly. I checked The Tongariro out on Tuesday and I did not see another fisherman anywhere wherever I went. No doubt many fishers thought the conditions were totally unsuitable, but this could not be further from the truth.

Ensure you cover up from the sun now.
Nice jack on a Woolly Bugger.

 Sure, the river is discoloured and there is a lot of vegetation floating down, but the river is falling and a long way down from its peak height of 274 cumecs on Sunday night. Now it was below 50 cumecs and the water was no longer a muddy colour but a deep milky green and the bottom could be clearly made out in the calmer areas. This is a great time to be on the water and to concentrate on the seam lines on the edges. If you look at the high-water photo on the Tongariro River, you will note my rod is pointing to the right. On the extreme right of the river there is no current (it is like glass). The current does not begin until about a quarter of the way across (moving left) and then only quietly but there is an obvious seam line where this occurs. The current intensifies the further left I go. The area I am targeting is the right-hand side. 

High Water, Tongariro River.

The aim is to cast a streamer by landing it in the smooth water and allowing it to swing into the current around the seam line. These conditions are ideal to use such as woolly bugger, rabbit, marabou or intruder type flies. I had some good steady action with some good fish taking the black woolly bugger in this instance. One of the trout snared was a strong Jack as seen in the photo with the woolly bugger firmly embedded in its jaw. This fish gave me a hell of a scrap. At time of writing the river is running at about 40 cumecs and ideal for both wetlining and nymphing. I am finding that all standard patterns of nymph are working well and in the higher water it may be an idea to increase to a size 12 or even 10 as your nymph behind the bomb.

The I Love Fly Fishing shop on Turangi has had steady clientele this week and I hope you are all having success on the water. I am guiding an elderly couple tomorrow, so I am hoping the rivers don’t rise too much prior to start time. While further rain is forecast, I don’t think it is going to be too bad and fishing heading into the weekend should be excellent.

Remember, whatever your requirements, you can ring me anytime if outside normal trading hours and I will open up ( within reason of course 😀). 021667867.

Until next time.

Brian Willson - NZPFGA Member.


My name is Brian Willson and I have been a fly fisher for over 50 years. I am a professional fishing guide and current NZPFGA member of which I have served at executive level and have guided anglers of different skill sets, ages and gender from all over the world. I have also written two books on fly fishing and am a keen artist. I am passionate about fly fishing and the therapeutic qualities it offers and enjoy sharing this experience with people on and off the water. Over the years I have made some amazing friendships that continue to this day. I have partnered up with one of these friendships, Barrie Barnes from I Love Fly Fishing, and I sell exclusively, quality, affordable fly fishing gear at my premises at 8 Wiremu Street, Turangi, the designated I Love Fly Fishing shop in Turangi which is open all hours— just ring 021667867 anytime. I take a serious interest in my clients and freely offer advice when asked and am happy to talk fishing anytime. Tight lines, Brian Willson

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